“Dear Spotify Team,
There are no words I can say to adequately convey how deeply sorry I am for the way The Joe Rogan Experience controversy continues to impact each of you. Not only are some of Joe Rogan’s comments incredibly hurtful – I want to make clear that they do not represent the values of this company. I know this situation leaves many of you feeling drained, frustrated and unheard.
I think it’s important you’re aware that we’ve had conversations with Joe and his team about some of the content in his show, including his history of using some racially insensitive language. Following these discussions and his own reflections, he chose to remove a number of episodes from Spotify. He also issued his own apology over the weekend.
While I strongly condemn what Joe has said and I agree with his decision to remove past episodes from our platform, I realize some will want more. And I want to make one point very clear – I do not believe that silencing Joe is the answer. We should have clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed, but canceling voices is a slippery slope. Looking at the issue more broadly, it’s critical thinking and open debate that powers real and necessary progress.
Another criticism that I continue to hear from many of you is that it’s not just about The Joe Rogan Experience on Spotify; it comes down to our direct relationship with him. In last week’s Town Hall, I outlined to you that we are not the publisher of JRE. But perception due to our exclusive license implies otherwise. So I’ve been wrestling with how this perception squares with our values.
If we believe in having an open platform as a core value of the company, then we must also believe in elevating all types of creators, including those from underrepresented communities and a diversity of backgrounds. We’ve been doing a great deal of work in this area already but I think we can do even more. So I am committing to an incremental investment of $100 million for the licensing, development, and marketing of music (artists and songwriters) and audio content from historically marginalized groups. This will dramatically increase our efforts in these areas. While some might want us to pursue a different path, I believe that more speech on more issues can be highly effective in improving the status quo and enhancing the conversation altogether.
I deeply regret that you are carrying so much of this burden. I also want to be transparent in setting the expectation that in order to achieve our goal of becoming the global audio platform, these kinds of disputes will be inevitable. For me, I come back to centering on our mission of unlocking the potential of human creativity and enabling more than a billion people to enjoy the work of what we think will be more than 50 million creators. That mission makes these clashes worth the effort.
“I’ve told you several times over the last week, but I think it’s critical we listen carefully to one another and consider how we can and should do better. I’ve spent this time having lots of conversations with people inside and outside of Spotify – some have been supportive while others have been incredibly hard, but all of them have made me think.
One of the things I am thinking about is what additional steps we can take to further balance creator expression with user safety. I’ve asked our teams to expand the number of outside experts we consult with on these efforts and look forward to sharing more details.
Your passion for this company and our mission has made a difference in the lives of so many listeners and creators around the world. I hope you won’t lose sight of that. It’s that ability to focus and improve Spotify even on some of our toughest days that has helped us build the platform we have. We have a clear opportunity to learn and grow together from this challenge and I am ready to meet it head on.
I know it is difficult to have these conversations play out so publicly, and I continue to encourage you to reach out to your leaders, your HR partners or me directly if you need support or resources for yourself or your team.”
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek
REJECTION OF DEFUSE PROJECT PROPOSAL
Proposal Title: DEFUSE – Defusing the Threat of Bat-borne Coronaviruses (2018)
Proposal Identifier: HR001118S0017-PREEMPT-FP-019
Amounts Requested by EcoHealth Alliance:
Phase I $8,411,546
Phase II $5,797,699
The DEFUSE proposed project by EHA was rejected by DARPA, although “if funding became available”, certain components of particular interest could have gone ahead, subject to a clear contractual Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) risk mitigation plan that ‘includes a responsible communications plan’.
REASONS FOR REJECTION
The Biological Technologies Office of DARPA reviewed the EcoHealth Alliance DEFUSE proposal and the Evaluation Reports and decided it was “selectable”. In doing so, two out of three reviewers considered the aim of preempting “zoonotic spillover through reduction of viral shedding in the bat caves” as of interest to DARPA. These reviewers assessed the EHA and Collaborators team and concluded that:
-They have plenty of prior experience.
-They have access to Yunnan caves where bats are infected with SARSr viruses.
-They have carried out past surveillance work
-They have developed geo-based risk maps of zoonotic hotspots
-Their proposed experimental work is logical and can validate molecular and evolutionary
-Their proposed preemption approaches can rapidly be validated using bat and “batenized” mouse models. However, the Biological Technologies Office did not recommend it be funded at that time because significant weaknesses were identified.
Rejection Letter – Findings p. 2/2
- The proposal is considered to potentially involve GoF/DURC research because they propose to synthesize spike glycoproteins which bind to human cell receptors and insert them into SARSr-CoV backbones to assess whether they can cause SARS-like disease.
- However the proposal does not mention or assess potential risks of Gain of Function (GoF) research.
- Nor does the proposal mention or assess Dual Use Research of Concern (DURC) issues, and thus fails to present a DURC risk mitigation plan.
- The proposal hardly addresses or discusses ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI).
- The proposal fails to discuss problems with the proposed vaccine delivery systems caused by the known issues of variability in vaccine dosage.
- The proposal did not provide sufficient information about how EHA would use any data obtained and how they would model development or perform any necessary statistical analysis.
- The proposal did not explain clearly how EHA will take advantage of their previous work, nor how that previous work could be extended.
- The proposal failed to clearly assess how it would deploy and validate the “TA2 preemption methods” in the wild. This refers to carrying out experiments with effective immune boosting molecules and delivery techniques via FEA aerosolization mechanism at one test and. two control bat cave sites in Yunnan, China (PARC, EHA, WIV).
- The proposal does not address concerns about these vaccines not being able to protect against the wide variety of coronaviruses in bat caves which are constantly evolving due to insufficient epitope coverage.
- DRASTIC independently assesses that the tone of the proposal (see for instance the ‘our cave complex’) and the deep suggested involvement of some of the WIV parties (Shi Zheng Li employed half-time for 3 years – paid via the grant – and invited to DARPA headquarters at Arlington), may not have helped either – especially in the absence of any DURC risk mitigation program.
It is clear that the proposed DEFUSE project led by Peter Daszak could have put local communities at risk by failing to consider the following issues:
- Gain of Function
- Dual Use Research of Concern
- Vaccine epitope coverage
- Regulatory requirements
- ELSI (ethical, legal, and social issues)
- Data Usage
ATLANTA — A liberal nonprofit that accused President Donald Trump of unleashing a “surge in white supremacy and hate” donated $85,000 last fall to election administrators in Georgia’s largest county as part of a campaign to turn out black votes in the 2020 election, says a report published Wednesday by Just the News . Auditors now want some of that money returned.
The Fulton County Auditor declared this month that county election officials failed to spend all of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s grant for buying absentee ballot drop boxes and did not comply with one of the grant’s primary requirements to publicly disclose how many ballots were collected in the boxes.
“The grant specified that any unused funds were to be returned to the SPLC by December 31, 2020. During our review, we identified that (21) ballot drop boxes were purchased on September 10, 2020 for a total cost of $40,614,” the auditor reported. “We also noted that as of the date of our review, the remaining $44,386 had not been returned to the SPLC and the funds remain in the Registration and Election Department’s budget.”
Officials in the county elections office, which includes Atlanta and has suffered from documented mismanagement, told the auditors they were in touch with the county’s grant division about returning money. But the report noted the deadline for doing so was already eight months past.
“Failure to return grant funds by the agreed upon deadline may lead to misuse of funds, restriction of future funding, as well as inaccurate record-keeping and financial reporting,” the auditors noted.
The audit findings are the latest to shine a light on private funds from prominent liberals that bypassed political parties, candidates and campaigns during the 2020 election and went instead to the independent judges and administrators of local elections, all in the name of pandemic safety.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stirred controversy by donating a stunning $350 million in 2020 to another group, the Center for Tech and Civic Life, to provide grants to election administrators. Much of that money was targeted to large blue, urban areas and made requests to increase voter access for minority groups that typically lean Democrat.
After the election, when the impact of Zuckerberg’s funding became more clear, conservatives complained his funding was really Democratic get-out-the-vote money disguised as COVID aid so it could enlist local governments in the effort. At least eight states, including Arizona, have banned such private funding to election administrators since the November 2020 election.
SPLC’s role in Fulton County is likely to increase scrutiny of such private funding. Founded in the 1970s by the civil rights lawyer Morris Dees, SPLC earned a bipartisan reputation as a source of research on hate groups and racist groups. But in recent years, especially during the Trump administration, it became relentlessly critical of conservatives and aligned more with liberal doctrine.
The audit sharply criticized Fulton County’s election division for failing to comply with a requirement of the SPLC grant to provide a “direct link” on the county website “displaying the amount of absentee ballots that were returned to the Registration and Elections Board, for the 2020 general election, using the absentee ballot drop boxes.” The auditors found no such disclosure.
“We were informed by management that the request for this information to be placed on the County’s website was made verbally, but not in writing,” the auditors wrote. “Failure to adhere to agreed upon grant requirement could lead to revocation of grant funds or prohibition of future funds.”
The episode is noteworthy as much for its noncompliance as the actual source of funds.
Though a 501c3 nonprofit that is supposed to avoid direct politics, the SPLC was vocally opposed to Trump and his policies from the start of his tenure to his very last days in office. Its position was overtly stated in one campaign it ran to get Americans to sign an online petition demanding America’s 45th president accept responsibility for white supremacy.
“President Trump’s campaign and presidency have energized the white supremacist movement in unprecedented ways,” the petition read. “We saw it in the support he received from the likes of David Duke during his campaign. We saw it in the surge in hate crimes committed in his name after his election. And we saw it in the deadly gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville.”
It added: “At this point, it’s not enough for Trump simply to condemn bigotry. He must take responsibility for the surge in white supremacy and hate that he has unleashed.”
SPLC relentlessly attacked Trump and Republicans throughout the 2020 election, from its Twitter feed to official statements. For instance, in June 2020 it decried Trump’s announcement he was listing the anarchist group Antifa as a terrorist organization as “further criminalization as a response to mourners and protesters demonstrating against abuses of police power. It is dangerous and unjust.”
It also described Antifa this way: “Individuals loosely affiliated with antifa are typically involved in skirmishes and property crimes at demonstrations across the country, but the threat of lethal violence pales in comparison to that posed by far-right extremists.”
In another infamous attack in December 2019, the group alleged that Trump had “weaponized the immigration courts into a deportation machine.”
The SPLC did not respond to an email seeking comment Monday. But when it provided the grant in October 2020, SPLC claimed it was part of a broader initiative to increase the African-American vote in Georgia, which also included multiple mailers to encourage blacks to vote by absentee ballot.
“Because lower propensity voters of color are less likely to be aware that they do not need an excuse, such as being out of town, to vote absentee, the SPLC is targeting many of them with official absentee ballot applications and instructions,” the group said at the time. “Included in the over one million eligible voters to be sent mailings are also new registrants of color since 2016, as well as more high propensity older voters of color who, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, may feel safer voting from home but are not tech-savvy enough to effectively use the state’s online absentee ballot request system.”
Phill Kline, a former Kansas attorney general and current head of the Amistad Project voter integrity initiative, said the overt anti-Trump posture of SPLC as well as its racial targeting could open the door for legal challenges.
“The SPLC joins dozens of left-leaning nonprofits funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into government election offices dictating policies which turned those offices into partisan campaign centers,” Kline said. “We have circumstantial evidence this effort was multistate and coordinated thereby implicating federal and state law concerns.”
The office announced the audit last week but declined to provide more details until Sept. 28.
Phase one of the review is underway, the office says. This phase involves verifying the accuracy of voting machines, assessing cybersecurity, and pinpointing and removing any people who cast votes illegally in 2020 from voter rolls.
State officials have received reports from the Electronic Registration Information Center regarding voters who may have voted twice or who illegally voted in Texas, despite living in another state. In addition, officials have identified votes they say were potentially cast by non-U.S. citizens and alerted counties to review each case. Once that’s done, any instances of possible illegal voting will be referred to the state Attorney General’s Office for investigation.
Phase two of the audit, estimated to take place in the spring of next year, is centered on examining election records from the counties, which also include Tarrant and Collins counties.
The Secretary of State’s office plans to examine include all chain-of-custody forms concerning equipment and all logic and accuracy testing records for voting machines.
Depending on the results of the examination, there could be a full manual recount in the affected precincts or polling locations.
“The purpose of this audit is to ensure all Texas voters can have confidence in the elections systems in our state, and to address any outstanding issues county election officials may face that undermines the integrity of our elections,” the office said in a statement.
A spokesman said in an email that the office won’t be hiring or contracting with any outside firms to conduct the audits. The position of Texas secretary of state is currently vacant.
Election offices in the four counties didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat, told reporters last week that “the sensational announcement of an audit by the state is nothing more than a political ploy by a former president and someone who’s trying to curry favor.”
“I’m working to do everything in my power to stop this not only because complying with a sham audit will take us away from serious work we have to do but also, and most importantly, because it will take trust away from our election systems here in Harris County and here in Texas,” she added.
The review was announced shortly after former President Donald Trump called on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, to carry out a forensic audit of the 2020 election, and shortly before an audit in Arizona was announced to have uncovered multiple inconsistencies.
Trump won Texas in the 2020 election by about 630,000 votes but said in a letter to Abbott that he heard Texans want an audit.
“Your citizens don’t trust the election system,” he wrote, adding that “Texans know voting fraud occurred in some of their counties.”
Abbott defended the audit over the weekend.
“There are audits of every aspect of government. We have a state auditor. There’s a federal auditor for the way that government operations work. Businesses that are public companies are subject to an annual audit,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Why do we audit everything in this world, but people raised their hands in concern when we audit elections, which is fundamental to our democracy?”
He also said the audit was underway months ago, although that hadn’t been previously disclosed.
The Epoch Times’ Zachary Stieber contributed to the contents of this report.
WASHINGTON– A blockbuster report obtained by Fox News shows illegal border crossings have totaled well over one million since Joe Biden took office eight months ago,
The report, which came from a source with the DHS, shows Border Patrol agents recorded more than 200, 000 illegal border crossings in July alone and another 208,887 encounters in August.
The numbers represent a 317% increase over August 2020 which saw 50,014 encounters — and a 233% increase over August 2019, where there were 62,707 at the peak of that year’s border crisis.
According to the DHS source, August’s total of 208,887 represents just a fraction of the true number of illegal aliens that are able to slip through undetected.
Biden has faced fierce criticism for its handling of the border crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, which Republican blame on his administration’s rollback of Trump-era policies like border wall construction and the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
In August, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the administration will continue to move forward with its border strategy, which he said involves rebuilding “safe, legal and orderly pathways for migrants,” improving processing, and going after smugglers.
“We have a plan, we are executing our plan and that takes time,” said Mayorkas.
Privately, however, Mayorkas has admitted that the crisis at the border is “unsustainable.”
In audio leaked to Fox News, Moyorkas, who did not realize he was being recorded, said “A couple of days ago I was down in Mexico, and I said look, you know, if, if our borders are the first line of defense, we’re going to lose and this is unsustainable,” Mayorkas said. “We can’t continue like this, our people in the field can’t continue and our system isn’t built for it.”
WASHINGTON — Judicial Watch announced today that it received 198 pages of records and communications from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) involving “humanized mice” research with human fetal heads, organs and tissue, including communications and contracts with human fetal tissue provider Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR). Most of the records are communications and related attachments between Perrin Larton, a procurement manager for ABR, and research veterinary medical officer Dr. Kristina Howard of the FDA.
Judicial Watch received the records through a March 2019 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, of which the FDA is a part (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department Health and Human Services (No. 1:19-cv-00876)). The lawsuit asks for all contracts and related documentation on disbursement of funds, procedural documents and communications between FDA and ABR for the provision of human fetal tissue to be used in humanized mice research. After successfully opposing the FDA’s redaction of certain information from its records, a federal court ordered HHS to release additional information about its purchases of organs harvested from aborted human fetuses – including “line item prices,” or the price per organ the government paid to ABR. The court also found “there is reason to question” whether the transactions violate federal law barring the sale of fetal organs. Documents previously uncovered in this lawsuit show that the federal government demanded the purchased fetal organs be “fresh and never frozen.”)
The records include an FDA generated contract with ABR, based on a “requisition” it issued on July 27, 2012, for $12,000 worth of “tissue procurement for humanized mice,” indicates the requisition was for a “non-competitive award.” Although the initial award was for $12,000, the total estimated amount of funds allocated for the requisition was $60,000. Under “Justification for Other than Full and Open Competition,” the FDA writes:
Scientists within the FDA and in the larger field of humanized mouse research have searched extensively over the past several years and ABR is the only company in the U.S. capable of supplying tissues suitable for HM research. No other company or organization is capable of fulfilling the need.
Costs are estimated [for the fetal parts] at $230 per tissue x two tissues per shipment = $460 plus $95 shipping = $555 per shipment. A total of 21 shipments = $11,655.00.
An April 1, 2013, “Amendment of Solicitation/Modification of Contract” form that shows the FDA purchased fetal livers and thymuses from ABR going back to at least October 2012, billing $580 per liver/thymus set, but later paying a unit price of $685.
A January 1, 2013, “Fees for Services Schedule” provided by ABR to the FDA includes:
FETAL CADAVEROUS PROCUREMENT SERVICE FEE
2nd trimester D&E [Dilation and Evacuation abortion] (13-24 weeks) per specimen $275
1st trimester aspiration [abortion] (8-12 weeks) per specimen $515
Intact Calvarium [baby’s skull] (8-24 weeks)” per specimen $515
The fees for services schedule also includes “Special Processing/Preservation” of the fetal parts, such as “Tissue ‘Cleaning,’” “Snap freezing” and “Passive freezing (Dry ice).”
In a September 9, 2014, “Order for Supplies or Services,” the FDA writes regarding a $9,900 order:
The Contractors shall ship 2nd Trimester thymus $325, 2nd Trimester liver $325. Overnight deliver $150 and EFT wire transfer fee $25, for a total per delivery of $825. Total of this contract not to exceed $9,900.00.
As the result of an August 21, 2015, “Amendment of Solicitation/Modification of Contract,” ABR bumped up the price of baby livers and thymuses from $325 each to $340 each.
A “Tissue Acquisition Quote” sent by ABR to Howard on July 5, 2017, provided a quote of $5,440 each to provide 16 sets of second trimester (16-24 weeks) livers and 16 sets of second trimester (16-24 weeks) thymuses at $340 per “sample.” The request for the quote notes that “tissue known to be positive for HIV, HepA, HepB, HepC or chromosomal abnormalities are not acceptable.”
On June 28, 2017, a redacted FDA contract specialist sends Larton at ABR a request for a quote (RFQ) of pricing for human fetal tissue, aged “16-24 weeks,” including a “Statement of Needs”:
The HM [humanized mice] are created by surgical implantations of human tissue into mice that have multiple genetic mutations that block the development of the mouse immune system at a very early stage. The absence of the mouse immune system allows the human tissues to grow and develop into functional human tissues…. In order for the humanization to proceed correctly we need to obtain fetal tissue with a specific set of specialized characteristics.
A May 2018, report from a company named “LABS,” which was employed by ABR to test fetal parts and their mothers for hepatitis and HIV, notes in its “methodology description” that they are approved by the FDA “for living and cadaveric donor screening.”
The records include a recitation of requirements by the FDA for “Payment by Electronic Funds Transfer,” in which ABR must adhere to regulations relating to “Convict Labor” and “Child Labor-Cooperation with Authorities and Remedies.”
On September 24, 2018, the Trump FDA terminated its contract with ABR for human tissue purchases and began an audit of its acquisitions of baby body parts. The records include the FDA’s letter terminating the contract:
Based on the terms and conditions of the Purchase Order as awarded to Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. (“ABR”) on July 27, 2018, the Government is not sufficiently assured that the human tissue provided to the Government to humanize the immune systems of mice will comply with the prohibitions set forth under 42 U.S.C. § 289g- 2. Furthermore, the Government has concerns with the sufficiency of the sole-source justification. Therefore, pursuant to FAR [Federal Acquisition Regulation] clause 52.213-4(f), the Purchase Order is being terminated effective September 24, 2018.
“Chopping up aborted human beings for their organs and tissue is a moral and legal outrage,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This issue should be front and center in any debate about America’s barbaric abortion industry.”
In February 2020, Judicial Watch first uncovered through this lawsuit hundreds of pages of records from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showing that the agency paid thousands of dollars to a California-based firm to purchase organs from aborted human fetuses to create “humanized mice” for HIV research.
In May 2021, this lawsuit uncovered FDA records showing the agency spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to buy human fetal tissue from ABR. The tissue was used in creating “humanized mice” to test “biologic drug products.” The records indicated the FDA wanted tissue purchases “Fresh; shipped on wet ice.”
On August 3, 2021, Judicial Watch announced that it and The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), through a separate lawsuit, received 252 pages of new documents from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that reveal nearly $3 million in federal funds were spent on the University of Pittsburgh’s quest to become a “Tissue Hub” for human fetal tissue ranging from 6 to 42 weeks’ gestation. The Pitt scientists note that, “All fetal tissue is collected through a collaborative process including Family Planning, Obstetrics and Pathology.” Pitt anticipated “being able to harvest and distribute quality tissue and cells … [and] do not anticipate any major problems related to the acquisition and distribution of the tissues.” Pitt’s target goal “is to have available a minimum of 5 cases (tissues and if possible other biologicals) per week of gestational age for ages 6-42 weeks.”